Wednesday, December 30, 2015

SR-520 Arboretum ramps finally coming down

Western exit from 520 to be replaced January 6

It's been well over five years since Madison Park first learned that the Arboretum ramps to and from the 520 floating bridge would ultimately be just a memory (see our May 2010 posting on that subject here.)  Next month, the neighborhood will begin to see the consequences, for better or worse, of this historic highway reconfiguration. The Westbound 520 exit to Lake Washington Boulevard will be permanently closed on January 5 at 11 p.m. Beginning at 5 a.m. on January 6, drivers wishing to exit 520 to head South at Montlake will need to use a new Westbound ramp to Lake Washington Boulevard, which will channel traffic onto 24th Avenue E. (as shown below):

At least initially, there will be two stops associated with this exit, one at 24th (to allow construction vehicles easier access to a staging area) and one at Lake Washington Boulevard, which will be permanent.  Drivers may turn either East or West onto the Boulevard, which will be a new four-way stop at that point.  For those interested, here's a nifty traffic animation from WSDOT showing how this will all work.

As most readers will recall, WSDOT has had its issues with the new exit ramp from 520 to Montlake Boulevard, which opened earlier this year.  WSDOT is already noting that "as drivers adjust to the new [Lake Washington Boulevard] off-ramp, WSDOT will work with the City of Seattle to monitor traffic conditions and adjust signal timing on Montlake Boulevard as needed."

Ultimately, all of the Arboretum ramps will be outta here, of course:

The contractor has already demolished part of the "Ramps to Nowhere" configuration (a remnant of the never-built R.H. Thompson Expressway) and the final removal of these unconnected ramps is expected to be completed by the end of Spring 2016, according to WSDOT.  Meanwhile, no firm date has been established for removal of the existing Eastbound entrance ramp to 520 from the Arboretum.  This will happen no earlier than the fall of 2016, though more likely in 2017.  

The Westbound ramp needed to be replaced now because it is in the path of the new SR 520 West Approach Bridge North, which will connect the three Westbound lanes of the new floating bridge with 520 in the Montlake area:

Completion of the new approach bridge is scheduled for the summer of 2017.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Who moved our inventory?

Hot market outpaces listings

If you’d like to sell your home in Madison Park, now is clearly the time.  In fact the opportunity seemed so good to my wife and me that we decided to sell.  Our house was on the market for exactly a week. Now we’re living in a Madison Park rental.

Our quick-turn experience was not particularly noteworthy among recent sellers of Madison Park real estate.  The area’s frothy market just doesn’t seem to be abating. There are simply too few listings for the many interested buyers waiting to pounce.

Winter is usually the slowest period for moving real estate; but even so, the inventory level in the neighborhood is shocking low. There are only 13 houses for sale in Madison Park as we go to press, and only two of these are located outside the neighborhood’s more-exclusive enclaves of Washington Park and Broadmoor.

With houses selling in record time the current listings are relatively fresh, with an average time on market of just 41 days.  Almost half of those listings, six of thirteen, have entered the market within the last month.  Meanwhile, there are just three condos for sale here.  That’s perhaps a record low.  For comparative purposes it’s worth noting at this same time of year in 2012, during the dead winter of the down market, there were 22 condo listings.

Here’s a quick snapshot of the housing that’s currently available for purchase in Madison Park, courtesy of Redfin:


Listings:  13
Median List Price:  $2,890,000
Median Sq. Ft.:  4,590
Median Price per Sq. Ft.:  $630
Average Days on Market:  41
Percentage with Price Reductions:  8%
New Listings:  6
Pendings:  7


Listings:  3
Median List Price:  $700,000
Median Sq. Ft.:  1113
Median Price per Sq. Ft.:  $629
Average Days on Market:  102
Percentage with Price Reductions:  66%
New Listings:  1
Pendings:  3

The accelerating sales pace of Madison Park’s real estate market is evident in several ways.  In 2014 the 80 homes that sold spent a coincidental 80 days on the market, on average.  Although more houses were sold in the previous year (103 to be precise), those 2013 sold homes remained on the market almost 20% longer: 98 days.  There was also a compression year over year of the average discount at sale compared to the original listing price.  The discount for 2014 was just 4.2%, compared to 6.9% in the previous year.

Here’s the breakdown of 2014 home sales:


Sales:  80
Median Sale Price:  $1,434,000
Average Sq. Ft.:  3,425
Average Price per Sq. Ft.:  $475
Average Days on Market:  80
Average Discount from List Price:  4.2%


Sales: 21
Median Sale Price:  $475,000
Average Sq. Ft.:  1,122
Average Price per Sq. Ft.:  $486
Average Days on Market:  78
Average Discount from List Price: 6.6%

Although for the full year the average days on market for sold houses was 80, that waiting period declined to just 40 days during the fourth quarter. During that final fall/winter period, 17 houses changed owners, more than half in fewer than 30 days (with seven of those going pending in two weeks or less).

The average price per square foot of sold houses increased 13% year over year, from $421 in 2013 to $475 in 2014 (click to enlarge):

I always caution that this kind of comparison can be misleading since the mix of houses sold (lower market versus upper market) is different from year to year, making it difficult to extrapolate given how small this market is.  But the trend is certainly in the right direction, and those who want to compute their own home’s value based on the market rate can use the $475 number as the best current approximation for the neighborhood.  House sales in 2014 ranged all the way from $254 per square foot to $947, proving an often-made point about the variability of housing choices in the Park.

Zillow uses current sales prices to compute a home value index for various Seattle neighborhoods. For Madison Park (exclusive of Broadmoor), the median home value is now just shy of $1 million, according to Zillow.  As you an see from the chart below (click to enlarge), Madison Park just about back where it was at the height of the market in 2007:

The most expensive house sold in 2014 was a 6,155 sq. ft. modernistic mega-house in Broadmoor at 1515 Parkside Drive, which sold for $4,200,000.  That works out to $682 per square foot.  The five-bedroom/five-bath home sold in just 14 days, which is not typical for Broadmoor, where 196 days was the average in 2014.  Twelve houses were sold in Broadmoor during the year, with a median sales price of $2,326,750.  One of these houses sold after 1128 days on the market and another after 907 days. Excluding these two outliers, the average on-market time for sold houses in Broadmoor was only 32 days.

1515 Parkside Drive East

In Washington Park the most expensive house sale was a 5,500 sq. ft. Georgian Colonial house at 1133 McGilvra Boulevard E.  This five-bedroom/3.5-bath home sold for $3,803,000, $689 per square foot.  The median price of the 26 houses sold in Washington Park last year was $1,512,500, and the average square feet of these was 3,730.  These homes sold in 74 days on average.

1133 McGilvra Boulevard East

For the rest of Madison Park, the 41 houses sold in 2014 averaged 2,794 square feet. At a median price of $1,200,000 this is an average of $470 per square foot.  These houses also had the lowest discount at sale from the original list price, just 2%.

And here’s a very interesting fact:  of the 80 houses sold in Madison Park last year, 34 of these (43%) sold at or above their original listing price.  Of the 23 houses initially priced at $1 million or less, 17 (74%) sold at or above list.  There must have been a bidding war for some of these.  For example, one house listed at $625,000 ultimately sold for $755,00 and another house that was listed at $629,000 sold for $765,000.  This kind of premium to list did not occur as often in the upper market, but a house listed at $1,850,000 did sell at $2,200,000, 119% of original list.

By the way, the least expensive house sold in Madison Park last year was a 1,450 sq. ft. two-bedroom on E. Madison Street, changing hands at $524,000.  There were 11 houses that sold for under $800,000 during 2014, but the days of a “cheap ticket to Madison Park” may be behind us.  There is only one house priced at under $1 million in today’s market—and that’s a two-bedroom 1923 cottage (shown at top) which is listed at $840,000.

Expect that baby to be gone soon.

[As always, thanks to Laura Halliday of Windermere Real Estate, for her assistance in compiling market statistics for sold homes, utilizing data from the Northwest Multiple Listing Service. Lower two photos courtesy of Redfin.]

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Develop or not develop?

A quick trip around the neighborhood reveals that there is plenty of development currently in progress here, all of of it involving the construction of single-family residences.   In our part of town it’s unusual for there to be new office or multi-family developments underway.  This is principally due to the fact that the few blocks that are zoned for commercial or higher-density residential buildings have already been developed.   Here and there, however, there are some pockets of real estate that could be developed on a grander scale than what currently occupies the space.  Right now there are several separate plots in Madison Park that could see something other than single-family-residence development in the next year or so.

In general, higher-density residential buildings in Seattle can only be built on properties in areas specifically zoned for that purpose.  Madison Park has several areas near the Lake that are designated as available for lowrise development, which includes cottage housing, rowhouses, townhouses and three-story apartment buildings.   Most of the Park is designated either SF 5000 (meaning zoned for single-family residences on average 5,000 sq. ft. lots) or SF 7200 (which encompasses all of Broadmoor and most of Washington Park).  There are also some SF 9600 lots in the neighborhood, along the water south of E. Prospect Street and continuing south through Denny Blaine.  Very little commercial/retail zoning exists in Madison Park, with the area along E. Madison Street between 41st and 43rd Avenues constituting the vast bulk of these properties. Such development is also allowed along 42nd 43rd Avenues between E. Blaine and E. Newton Streets and along E. Madison Street between 31st and 33rd Avenues E.

With the recent sale of the building that housed Café Parco (1807 42nd Ave. E.) there was speculation that the property would be slated for development.  But as we previously reported, that is apparently not going to happen.  Rehabilitation is going to happen, however, and the space will house the personal office of a Madison Park resident who would like to both live and work here.

At about the same time the Café Parco space turned over, the neat 1929 brick building just to the south also changed hands.  It was purchased by third-generation Madison Park resident Brad Augustine, through a real estate holding company.   We quizzed him on whether he has any development plans for the property and he responded that he doesn’t plan to do anything more at the present time than remove an underground storage tank that’s on site.  The building currently houses two office tenants and Augustine says he will continue to manage the property as a commercial building.  His property management/development company, Madrona Real Estate Services, is known for developing some high-quality projects in the area.

One new low-rise development that definitely is on the drawing boards is slated for 2307 43rd Avenue E., the property across from Swingset Park from which a 1920s Craftsman-style residence was lifted and then barged away several years ago.  The property has sat forlorn since that time, awaiting a new owner with a plan.   That plan has now been filed and, assuming the City approves the project, a three-unit residential structure will be built on the site, including parking for six vehicles.

Finally with regard to potential neighborhood development, we note that the city’s Department of Planning and Development is apparently still deliberating over the proposal to build a six-unit apartment building at 2346 43rd Avenue E., the site of Madison Park’s only over-water single family residence.  We reported on the controversy surrounding this proposal when the plans were made public last January. To date, it looks like the review is continuing.  A check of the DPD website shows that the permit status for the project is nothing more advanced than “Application Accepted.”

[Illustration courtesy of E. Cobb Architects.]